Ryder Cup legend Tony Jacklin has revealed he has been suffering with cancer for the past seven years, in an explosive new tell-all autobiography that also details his affair with a 16-year-old waitress shortly after his first wife died.
Jacklin, widely regarded as the best British golfer of his generation, opens up about the most significant aspects of his life in Tony Jacklin: My Ryder Cup Journey, co-authored by Tony Jimenez.
The project began during lockdown last year when Jimenez worked with Jacklin, a two-time major winner and four-time Ryder Cup captain between 1983 and 1989, to explore the incredible story of how he transformed the once embarrasingly one-sided matches into the most explosive, eagerly-anticipated and money-spinning event in the game of golf that it is today.
However, the conversations quickly became a deeply personal reflection on Jacklin’s life both on and off the golf course, which is most apparent in the chapter ‘1988: A Tumultuous Year’.
That year saw Jacklin’s first wife, Vivien, tragically die of a brain haemorrhage at the wheel of her car, aged just 44. With three children surviving her, Jacklin’s world collapsed and he sank into a deep well of grief and depression.
‘It’s impossible to understand the gut-wrenching heartbreak of losing a spouse until it happens to you,’ Jacklin writes in the book. ‘I lost the will to live for a spell.’
Just six weeks later Jacklin, then 44, became embroiled in a national scandal as he began an affair with a 16-year-old waitress, Donna Methven.
‘It was just a circumstance thing,’ Jacklin told Sportsmail. ‘I mean, I didn’t know how old she was, I didn’t know anything about that.’
Two months later, while with Methven at his home in Spain, Jacklin met his now wife, Astrid, and immediately broke off with the young waitress.
‘As soon as I laid eyes on her (Astrid), that was it,’ Jacklin said. ‘And that girl (Methven) actually was there with me at the time.
‘As soon as I met Astrid, I went and told her (Methven) “you’re going to have to go back”. I put her on a plane in Gibraltar and she walked straight into The Sun’s office and spilled the beans.’